A Beneficial Church Member Prays for Their Pastor

In chapter 4 of his book, I Am A Church Member, Thom Rainer addresses the topic of praying for one’s pastor. He opens the chapter with a lengthy true story of a day in the life of a pastor. I could personally relate to such a story. We as pastors seldom share such stories with others. Perhaps we should.

Rainer reminds his readers of several areas of life concerning which they should pray for their pastor.

  • Pray regarding his teaching preparation and public speaking
  • Pray regarding his family. “Few families face the kinds of pressures and expectations as the families of pastors.”
  • Pray regarding his spiritual protection. Remember the Biblical qualifications for being a pastor. Remember the unique traps that are regularly laid for pastors.
  • Pray regarding his physical and mental health. Remember his need for wisdom. Remember the pressures that he experiences through the normal routine of his ministry.

I would add that, as a general rule, the church member who consistently and genuinely prays to God concerning their pastor seldom talks negatively to other church members about their pastor. Pray for your pastor. And when you are done, pray for him again.

Helpful Resources for Teaching on the book of Ruth

It has been my privilege to study and teach from the book of Ruth for the past few months. Here is a list of the resources I have found to be most helpful.

  1. Frederic Bush: Ruth/Esther (Vol. 9 Word Biblical Commentary; ISBN: 9780849902086)
  2. Robert B. Chisholm, Jr.: A Commentary on Judges and Ruth (Kregel; ISBN: 9780825425561)
  3. Robert B. Chisholm, Jr.: A Workbook for Intermediate Hebrew (Kregel; ISBN: 9780825423901)
  4. David A. Dorsey: The Literary Structure of the Old Testament (Baker Academic; ISBN: 9780801027932)
  5. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum: Judges and Ruth (Ariel Ministries; ISBN: 9780976525233)

I make use of other resources, but I have found these to be the most helpful. I especially appreciate the two commentaries by Bush and Chisholm. Chisholm’s workbook has been a good refresher for my Hebrew.

I Will Not Let My Church Be About Me

A copy of a helpful book by Thom Rainer was recently gifted to me. I have used the title from chapter 3 of I Am A Church Member as the title for this post.

Rainer writes: Christians can sometimes act like those demanding children who want things their way. Temper tantrums in churches may not include church members lying on the floor kicking and screaming, but some come close. (Though I personally know of some such examples.)

But the strange thing about church membership is that you actually give up your preferences when you join. Don’t get me wrong; there may be much about your church that you like a lot. But you are there to meet the needs of others. You were there to serve others. You are there to give. You are there to sacrifice. Get the picture? (34)

We will never find joy in church membership when we are constantly seeking things our way. But paradoxically, we will find the greatest joy when we choose to be last. That’s what Jesus meant when He said the last will be first. True joy means giving up our rights and preferences and serving everyone else. And that’s what church membership means as well. (36)

While I am not a big fan of making pledges necessarily, Rainer includes a pledge at the end of each chapter. (I would suggest something more along the lines of “grace-desires.”) Be that as it may, Rainer reminds us to remind ourselves of the following:

I am a church member. I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires. That is self-serving. I am a member in this church to serve others and to serve Christ. My Savior went to a cross for me. I can deal with any inconveniences and matters that just aren’t my preference or style. (41)

Post on Public Bible Reading

Pastor Dan Phillips has benefited the public Bible reader with his post, The Public Reading of Scripture: Ten Pointed Pointers. Here are some ideas that I will be sharing with the readers in our congregation.

Helpful Post on Criticism of Pastors

You will want to read this helpful post on responding to a specific type of criticism.

Our Generous God

Some professing Christians have a distorted view of God. This distortion often goes one of two directions. The first distortion is that God wants me to be healthy and wealthy at all times. The second distortion is that God is often stingy in dealing with His children. Both are inaccurate views of God.

We see this “God is stingy” attitude illustrated in the life of Naomi in the book of Ruth. Consider the emphasis in Ruth 1:21 where she says: full was I when I left here, but empty Yahweh has caused me to return.” By the way, have you ever considered how the loyally-merciful Ruth felt as she stood nearby listening to Naomi complain about her God-induced emptiness?

So, is God really reluctant to meet our needs? Does He simply give us enough to “get by”? Consider the use of the Greek term epichoregeo [Strong's # 2023]. There are fives uses in the New Testament. The first three refer to God Himself.

  1. Second Corinthians 9:10–God’s generosity in providing seed for the farmer, food to eat, and material means to give to others
  2. Galatians 3:5–God’s generosity in giving the Holy Spirit to genuine believers at the moment of salvation
  3. 2nd Peter 1:11–God’s generosity in providing genuine believers with an abundant entrance in the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ

The second two references are used to refer to God’s people.

  1. Colossians 2:19–we are to reflect God’s image by being generous in assisting the growth of other believers in the congregation
  2. Second Peter 1:5–we are to reflect God’s image by making every effort to be generous in doing what is needed for ourselves to grow spiritually in Christlikeness

Far from being stingy, God is generous. And we, as His children, are to reflect that image to the glory of His name and the good of His people.

Helpful Resources for Studying Galatians

It has been my privileged responsibility to shepherd God’s flock here through the book of Galatians these last several months. We are nearly done with chapter 2. I have found the following resources to be helpful in my study time.

  • Robert Gromacki, Stand Fast in Liberty, Kress Christian Publications, ISBN: 097175683x
  • Homer A. Kent, Jr., The Freedom of God’s Sons, Baker Book House, ISBN:0801053765
  • Douglas Moo, Galatians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), Baker Academic, ISBN: 9780801027543
  • Philip G. Ryken, Galatians (Reformed Expository Commentary), P&R Publishing, ISBN: 9780875527826
  • Thomas R. Schreiner, Galatians (Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), Zondervan, ISBN: 9780310243724
  • Curtis Vaughan, Galatians (Founders Study Guide Commentary), Founders Press, ISBN: 0971336164

I use a few others, but these have been the most helpful.

Consequences of Jealousy and Envy

In my last post I detailed the sinfulness of both jealousy and envy. In this post I want to address what God reveals in the New Testament to be the consequences of these sins. Consider the following harmful consequences of being jealous and envious.

  • It demonstrates disregard for God’s command not to envy one another–Galatians 5:26
  • It may result in additional sinful behavior
    • Jesus was handed over to the Roman authority by the Jewish leaders because of envy–Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10
    • Peter and John were imprisoned by the Jewish leaders because of jealousy–Acts 5:17
    • Joseph’s brothers sold him into Egypt because of envy–Acts 7:9
    • Paul experienced opposition from the Jews in Pisidian Antioch because of jealousy–Acts 13:45
    • Paul, as an unbeliever, persecuted the congregation because of jealousy–Philippians 3:6
  • It may improperly motivate the preaching of certain men–Philippians 1:15
  • It hinders the believer’s proper response to the Word of God–1st Peter 2:1-3
  • It hinders the proper manifestation of love with one another–1st Corinthians 13:4
  • It fosters a “party spirit” in a congregation–1st Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 4:17; James 4:1-3
  • It hinders the demonstration of wisdom–James 3:13
  • It breeds instability and every evil practice in a congregation–James 3:16

Surely the desire to avoid such consequences should be one of the motives for us to shun the temptation to jealousy and envy. In the next post I would like to address the question: how do we fight against the sins of jealousy and envy?

Jealousy and Envy

So, there he was minding his own business, and an acquaintance walked up to greet him. After a few social pleasantries, he was told, “I am so jealous of you, because you ….” He was stunned. Surprised, in fact. He has nothing of which anyone should be jealous, nor is he anything of whom someone should be jealous. He’s just a Christian man who is seeking to serve God to the glory of His name.

He has the privilege of shepherding a small flock of God entrusted to his charge. He has a wonderful Titus 2-exemplifying godly wife, wonderful children and children-in-law, and maybe a few grandlittles.  He has no abilities of which anyone should be jealous or envious. He makes do by God’s grace with what God has given to him.

He is a plodder. He is not an outstanding Bible-teacher, pastor, or church leader. He is not a great musician or administrator. He is definitely not a proficient blog-writer. He plods along, seeking by God’s grace to be faithful to Him. Many verses are precious to him, but 1st Corinthians 4:2 peals a more frequent tune in the belfry of his heart. “Now, in addition, what is sought in a steward is that he be found reliable.

So this jealousy of which this acquaintance spoke of: can it ever be a good thing in the heart of a Christian? What does the New Testament show us about this attitude? Let’s look at the use of the word group from zeo [Strong's # 2204], zelos [# 2205], zeloo [# 2206], and zelotes [# 2207].

Negative zeal/jealousy: Acts 5:17; 7:9; 13:45; Romans 13:13; 1st Corinthians 3:3; 13:4; 2nd Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 4:17; 5:20; Philippians 3:6; James 3:14, 16; 4:2

Positive zeal: John 2:17; Acts 18:25; Romans 10:2; 12:11; 1st Corinthians 7:7; 12:31; 14:1, 39; 2nd Corinthians 7:11; 9:2; 11:2; Galatians 4:18; Colossians 4:13; Hebrews 10:27; Revelation 3:19

So, among other things, we learn that one can be appropriately zealous for the people and things of God, but we should never be jealous of the people of God. In other words, it is never pleasing to God to be jealous of another Christian.

Envy is only a slightly different from jealousy. See the Greek word group phthonos [# 5355] and phthoneo [# 5354].

Envy is normally negative: Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10; Romans 1:29; Galatians 5:21, 26; Philippians 1:15; 1st Timothy 6:4; Titus 3:3; 1st Peter 2:1

But the Greek word may have a positive slant with the sense of being appropriately protective: James 4:5

In a future post I would like to address what the New Testament teaches about consequences of Jealousy and Envy.

Four Things Nailed to the Cross of Christ

Pastor Philip G. Ryken, in the Galatians volume of the Reformed Expository Commentary series, reminds us that four things were nailed to the cross when Jesus Christ was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem.

This text (Galatians 2:19-20) reveals something very surprising about the cross. It shows that at least four things were nailed to the cross of Calvary. The most obvious, of course, was Jesus himself, through his hands and feet. As the records plainly show, he was put to death by being nailed to the cross. Also fastened to the cross with a hammer and a nail was the public announcement that read: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). The third thing that was nailed to the cross was the debt of our sin. Paul explained this to the Colossians: God forgave “all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14). The record of debt was the law of God, which condemns us by listing all our sins and which God canceled by nailing it to the cross.

But here is the surprise: if you are a follower of Christ, then you were nailed to the cross too! The crucifixion is not just a fact about the life of Christ and a momentous event in human history, but is also part of every Christian’s personal life story….

Do not misunderstand this. Jesus Christ died once for all. He alone was the God-man, so he alone could atone for the sins of the world by offering his life in our place. Yet the Scripture also says that the Christian has been crucified with Christ. It uses the perfect tense to show that this is something that really and truly happened, as if we were nailed to the very tree of Calvary. This is not a subjective experience in the life of the believer, but an objective reality that is based on the believer’s relationship to Christ. (73-74, bold emphasis added)


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